Just over a decade ago I was tweeting bad things about David Souter. I had readers from RedState send so much rock salt to Olympia Snowe for siding with the Democrats in a committee vote on Obamacare that it made the Wall Street Journal. I sent balls to Mitch McConnell. I was a tea partier when it wasn’t cool (not that it ever got to be cool). I stood in front of the state capitol in South Carolina with Sarah Palin to introduce Nikki Haley for the Palin endorsement.
At my first RedState Gathering, Haley, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio showed up. I’ve been championing conservatives for years and now get routinely told that I’m not a conservative because I don’t support a particular candidate, even though I supported him and gave him money.
I’m just not down for cults of personality and I continue to note that many of the people most enraged and most convinced that the election is stolen are newcomers to the process who haven’t been around for all the fights before. I like ideas. People? Meh.
What infuriates me the most are the people I know who don’t really believe this stuff, but they’re doing the dog and pony show and performative leg humping so they don’t have people driving past their houses screaming “stop the steal,” like what happened to me last week.
How did I become the sane person in all of this? How did I become the reasonable voice? Me — Erick “let me tell you what he said about David Souter” Erickson!
Honestly, I think it is because I should be dead.
No, that is not an exaggeration. I really should be dead. Every time I go to a doctor and he sees my scans from four years ago, he tells me I should be dead. I had so many clots pour into my lungs. I was in the hospital for more than a week, most of it in a cardiac ICU unit. I thought I just had bad allergies till I nearly passed out just from getting in bed. I couldn’t walk up a flight of stairs without stopping halfway to breathe. My wife made me go to a doctor who made me go to an ER, which made me get a CT scan and the poor kid who gave it to me freaked out and strapped me to a gurney so I could not move.
The same day, my wife got a call from the Mayo Clinic that she probably had cancer. She does. It is genetic and in her lungs and has no cure, but miracles of medicine make it so her tumors do not grow. She is being passed through a CT scanner right about now, which she does every three months to make sure things are fine and stable and nothing is growing. (Prayers always appreciated)
That all has a way of making us realize what matters.
I used to be a super political animal and now I am less so and find I am surrounded by people who have become more political. The 24/7 news cycle, social media, the atrophication of in-person social networks, the political demands resulting from a small base of persuadable voters turning America into an “us v them” society, the realization that much of the media really does hate conservatives and Christians — it has all turned into a perfect storm of polarization, politicization, and theological supplementation. As I was disentangling from a lot of it, a lot of people were getting tangled up in it.
I stepped back and realized so little of it does matter and so little of it does change and a lot of people stepped forward for change they could believe in or change from that. But the reality is neither side is really changing much in Washington anymore.
Now I get yelled out by both sides — from the one for not going down the stolen election rabbit hole or sufficiently genuflecting and from the other for still actually being a Christian conservative. It was a rude awaking for some new followers to find out I actually really do believe the Bible is the inerrant word of God and yes, transgenderism is a mental issue and Ellen whatshername can call herself whatever she wants, but I won’t be bullied into thinking it is normal, healthy, or right.
On the other side, I have a lot of people yelling at me for refusing to accept the election was stolen. Frankly, I don’t even think the Trump team really believes it. His lawyers sure as hell don’t or they wouldn’t have screwed up so may cases with late filings, missing paperwork, missing fees, and erroneous affidavits. I know of a call wherein they told some folks I am very familiar with that they really were just going to scream and holler and refuse to concede. It is all payback for 2016. They’ve lost about 50 lawsuits and in their latest, in state court in Georgia, they forgot to pay the court filing fees and fill out the right paperwork. That got their lawsuit thrown out.
That’s not even considering the batshit crazy lawsuit from Sidney Powell and her insane claims. I’m sorry some people take that stuff seriously. I’m sorry some people really believe Ware County, Georgia had machines seized. I’m sorry there are up and coming grifters on the right who don’t really believe it but get clicks, followers, and money by convincing you that they do. I’m sorry some people will take at face value the claims of some without thinking through or seeking rebuttal.
I’m really concerned with the crazy on my side, or at least what should be my side. I’m not even sure I have a side anymore. I just tell people I’m a conservative who thinks the GOP has failed on the debt and a bunch of issues and the Democrats are going full bore socialist secularists who’ll eventually get their own Mao and deny it while trying to silence people like me. I’m a Christian who thinks a lot of Christians have turned politics into religion. I’m a husband who wants to take care of my wife. I’m a dad who just wants to raise my kids to love Jesus and improve their community.
It’d be far easier for me, as a conservative talk radio show host to just get on the crazy train and tell you all exactly what you want to hear even though it is not true even though you are epistemically convinced it is true. It’d be far easier and less stressful and more financially lucrative for me to sound like everyone else on the right, right now.
But I think it would be wrong. And I may be wrong here, but I think most of my audience could now be described as reality-based conservatives who are people of faith who just want to really know what is going on and just understand the world from their faith perspective. They aren’t really down with full contact team sport politics. They’ve already got their favorite teams on a field somewhere and just want someone with their worldview to just tell them honestly what is going on.
Here’s what worries me though about all of this.
In 2017, Democrats started telling people the GOP would kill people with their healthcare legislation and worse. That rhetoric inspired James Hodgkinson to attempt a mass assassination of Republican members of Congress.
When the President and various prominent Republicans are out telling people the election is stolen, various people are committing treason, and the people need to rise up — some crazy MF’er is going to do it eventually.
Too many people on the right are playing with fire. Most of them don’t even believe it, but they’re trying to cultivate an audience, drive traffic to websites, and compete with Fox. If and when somebody gets hurt or killed, they’ll no more accept blame than the Democrats did after Hodgkinson.
The media will disproportionately cover it, giving it way more coverage than Hodgkinson got. That in turn will drive more people into isolated bubbles of news that only tells them what to hear. The cycle will continue.
There is a way out of this.
There was once a guy who had twelve friends. They decided not to get into politics. In fact, they really could not get into politics. The political system in their country precluded their involvement. But the twelve, led by their friend and ring leader, told a very simple truth: there is more than what you see. There is a truth accessible to all. There is an eternity waiting and it is bigger, better, and more incredible than anything you see here. All you have to do is believe by faith and accept you are just passing through.
These twelve men upended the whole world because their leader did remarkable, amazing things, including conquering death.
They never voted. They never got in politics. They never screamed on social media. They loved their neighbors. They fed the hungry. They healed the sick. They sought the welfare of their community and prayed for it. All of them lost their lives for it, save one who died an old man and testified about the others and their leader.
That leader, his name is Jesus and he is coming back. He won’t care who voted. He won’t care who you voted for. He won’t care about your plan for the national debt. He won’t care about politics. He will care that you put your faith in him, loved your neighbor, and shared his good news.
You will not change the outcome of this election. But you can, with your actions now, inspire someone to turn violently into the political process or turn with a penitent heart towards the Lord.
I’m not going to be a party to perpetuating crazy theories easily debunked. Eternity matters more than this damn election and a whole lot of people should start acting like they know that. Political nihilism should be anathema to Christians in politics.
You can say I’m being sanctimonious, but I’m actually being serious. Team sport, roughing the refs, smearing good people, and embracing lies all have a soul cost. Your anger at that which you cannot and will not fix has a soul cost. You jeopardize your ability to love your neighbor and to seek the welfare of your community. You give in to hate and rage and lose the grace Christ has shown you that you should be showing for others. You will never lose your salvation, but you may upend your sanctification or one day realize you never were saved to begin with.
I truly hope I am not sabotaging my career in conservative talk radio. It would be far easier for me to go along to get along. But I nearly died four years ago and on the verge of death, I realized there was more to life than politics. And I realized life is not fair. That doesn’t absolve me of my civic duty to participate. But it does mean I need to realize God’s plan is greater than what I want and he can use injustice to bring justice, fraud to bring faith, and you to your knees to pray His will be done when he smashes all your idols, plans, and desires. It requires me to be as truthful as I can even if it necessitates burning bridges with readers and listeners who want their ears tickled more than they want the truth. God’s in charge, not me, and I need to glorify him, not me, or worry about my career at the expense of truth.
He is working now and I hope you won’t have a near-death experience to force a recalibration of your life.
Four years ago I should have died. Today I am here to tell you God’s got this. Four years from now, we can do it all over again. This really will pass. This really is temporary. Eternity really does matter more.